Russia's latest endeavor to produce commercial grade lighter-than-air aircraft seems a little strange. The "aerostatic thermoballasted vehicle" from Locomo Sky looks like something straight out of a 1950s UFO movie. The flying saucer shape isn't just for show though, it helps the aerostat travel through the air with a minimum loss of energy to air resistance. According to their press release, Locomo Sky has started building a construction facility in the Ulyanovsk region of Russia to create a fleet of the aircraft. These airships, more commonly called Locomoskayners, are already used in geographical surveys. That version of the craft has a 1000kg (2200 lbs) carrying capacity with a crew of 2-8. Locomo Sky is hoping to build a huge version of the Locomoskayner that would have a 600 metric ton capacity or even carry 11,000 people. The company presented this idea recently to President Dmitry Medvedev, reportedly with good results. With millions already invested, it seems possible that Russian skies may be filled with flying saucers hauling cargo very soon. It sounds too wacky to be true, but it is. Check out a simulation video of the large Locomoskayner in action after the break.
Thanks to Gringo.Comtv.ru for the video. Can't say that the audio really helps me take this seriously though.
It's not that I doubt the efficiency or very long and successful history of lighter-than-air flight. Balloons, dirigibles, blimps - these aircraft ruled the sky before planes and jets were ever built. Even now, they represent a interesting means of hauling cargo. They don't need dedicated airfields, they can travel quickly across most terrain, and they are generally more fuel efficient. If you don't fill an airship with hydrogen (RIP Hindenburg) they are very safe. All these facts make aerostats a great idea. However, there's just something about the flying saucer shape of the Locomoskayner that cracks me up. I can't stop shaking my head and chuckling. Is this really the future of freight hauling in Russia? In the world? I'll believe it when I see it. Until then...
BEWARE THE RUSSIAN FLYING SAUCERS!
[image credit: Locomo Sky]
[sources: Locomo Sky]